Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp backed the ‘outstanding’ Naby Keita, saying the midfielder needed more time to adapt.
Keita, 23, has made 18 appearances for the Premier League side this season, although just 10 of those have been starts since he arrived from RB Leipzig in July last year.
Klopp said injury setbacks had hurt Keita’s season and he feels there is more to come from the Guinea international.
‘He is a fantastic player and I’m really happy to have him here,’ he said ahead of Monday’s FA Cup clash against Wolves.
‘It’s so good and I am really looking forward to our common future because see if you see it every day, wow, there is so much to come and so much influence he can have on each game, so that’s all good.
‘There was no reason [for him not playing recently], just because other boys were in good shape as well. It was a bit about positioning, a bit about system and all that stuff. That’s how football decisions are.
‘There is really, really no doubt about the boy, he is an outstanding player.’
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 6, 2019
Keita could get a chance to shine against Wolves, while 16-year-old defender Ki-Jana Hoever could be handed a Liverpool debut.
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are injured, while fellow centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Dejan Lovren have been heavily relied upon through a busy period.
Klopp said Gomez and Matip were nearing a return, but he will have to come up with other ideas – or use Van Dijk and Lovren again – against Wolves.
‘We will see what we do, but we cannot, we will not sign a centre-half for one game or whatever, that will not happen,’ he said.
‘Joe and Joel look good – obviously not good enough for Monday, not good enough I would say for the game after that for Brighton, [but] hopefully then they are at least in full team training.
‘I think for Joel it would be possible, for Joe at least there’s a little hope that it can be the same, so we will see. Joe had a good day, a very good day [on Friday], so that’s good.’
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